In recently published remarks of a July 17, 2018 meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation, an association of multinational cocoa companies, including Nestle, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Mars and Mondelez, Vice President Tim McCoy admitted that the goal of reducing child slavery in the West Africa Cocoa sector 70% by the year 2020 will not be met. This is a direct admission that these companies are knowingly profiting from child slavery. It also reveals the extreme folly of allowing the slave holders to monitor themselves and control the process for ending the child slavery that they profit from.
To grasp the extreme criminality of this industry, a brief history of their “efforts” to end child slavery must be reviewed. The 2020 deadline that the companies now admit they will not meet was the third extension of time the companies granted to themselves to end child slavery in their supply chains. The deadlines stem from a 2001 agreement the companies reached called the Protocol for the Growing and Processing of Cocoa Beans and their Derivative Products in a Manner that Complies with ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (the “Harkin-Engel Protocol”).
The Harkin-Engel Protocol noted that “the occurrence of the worst forms of child labor in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products is simply unacceptable.” The industry committed to develop and implement standards of public certifications by July 1, 2005, “that cocoa beans and their derivative products have been grown and/or processed without any of the worst forms of child labor.”
On July 1, 2005, the industry issued a Joint Statement acknowledging that “[i]n September 2001, chocolate and cocoa industry representatives signed an agreement, developed in partnership with Senator Harkin and Representative Engel, to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the growing of cocoa beans and their derivative products from West Africa. But “the July 1, 2005 deadline will not be fully met.”
Failing to meet the new self-imposed deadline, on June 16, 2008, the industry issued another Joint Statement promising “to have a sector-wide independently verified certification process fully in place across each country’s cocoa-growing sector by the end of 2010.[NINE YEARS after the 2001 Protocol was signed]
On September 13, 2010, the industry issued yet another Joint Statement promising “[b]y 2020, the establishment and implementation of a credible and transparent sector-wide monitoring system” that will reduce “the worst forms of child labor” by “70 percent.” That is the deadline the companies now admit they will not meet and they did not even bother to set another one.
The multinational cocoa companies will continue to profit from child slavery until they are forced to stop. The International Rights Advocates is leading an effort to sue the major companies for child slavery and trafficking. Please help us to bring these modern day slavers to justice! Contribute to our fight here.
STOP CHILD SLAVERY IN THE COCOA SECTOR